Nash Man Protests By Hanging Flag Upside Down
Posted June 17, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
NASHVILLE — A Nash County man says the federal government is treating tobacco farmers and Gulf War veterans unfairly, and he has an interesting way of protesting.
He is flying theAmerican flagupside down and has no plans to stop.
The only time people are supposed to fly an American flag upside down is to symbolize distress in an emergency. Dwight Watson says two groups of Americans are facing distress right now.
"Old Glory" is flying upside down more than a hundred feet over Watson's Nash County farm.
The former 82nd Airborne soldier says he turned the flag upside down a few months ago to call attention to two issues.
He says the federal government is mistreating veterans with Gulf War syndrome and has launched an assault on the tobacco industry.
"We're just trying to bring to the attention of the American people that this whole thing about thetobacco settlementis nothing but a tax, a consumer tax imposed on the American consumer by the court system," explained Watson.
Watson is drawing cheers from some and anger from others. Retired sailor Larry Burk does not like seeing the flag upside down even if Watson has noble intentions.
"To me it means distress in an emergency, and I almost pulled in to find out what the emergency was. If it's not an emergency, it shouldn't be flying that way," said Burk.
Watson does not want to offend anyone but says it is the best way to get out his message.
"It's certainly not a sign of disrespect to the flag. Certainly not trying to upset people. We've had a lot of people call, and we've had some people be upset. When we've had a chance to explain it to them, most people have said 'Hey, I support you 100 percent,'" said Watson.
"It's a representation of the American flag, and it shouldn't be flying upside down. They should take it down or turn it right side up," said Burk.
Watson says about 150 people have pulled off the road to ask him about the flag since he put it up three months ago.